Day 54: Walking in More than just your Own Shoes | Practical Parenting
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In this blog I want to share a little ‘method’ I’ve been applying with Cesar which has been working out nicely.
I have to move around a lot during the day, going from room to room, going to different place – and everywhere I go: Cesar comes with me. Whenever we are in a space, Cesar will find something that he wants to explore or play with. When I am done with whatever I had to do in a particular space and have to move on to the next point – Cesar is usually ‘not done’ in that he is still busy exploring or playing with something.
At first, I would see that he is obviously enjoying himself or being intrigued by whatever new object he got his hands on – but within having to go, and only considering my schedule and ‘what I need to do next’; I would pick him up and remove him from what he was busy with or place back what he took and then pick him up – where he very often would let out a shriek of discontent; but where I figured that ‘he needs to just get over this’ as we can’t always do ‘what he wants to do’ and so would cringe a bit inside myself but move on to the next thing.
This pattern started happening more and more and I wasn’t satisfied with my own inner-experience as these scenarios would play out. The cringing-experience inside myself, to me indicated that somewhere I am compromising and missing a point – because if I were confident in my actions, then there would be no experience, as what I would be doing would simply be: common sense. But this cringing-experience kept coming up each time I would remove him and we’d move on, so I decided to slow down and zoom-in to what goes on in these play-outs.
So the one day, as I was in the bathroom with him and he found himself an empty shampoo bottle to play with – I was looking at what I was about to do, as picking him up and going back to our room and how it usually plays out. As I played it out for myself within myself, I saw that I was only ever taking my perspective into account, where I was only worried and concerned about ‘getting to everything’. I realised, that I had completely forgotten about Cesar and how he ‘fills up’ his day. I only ever looked at how my timeline was playing out and not looking at his!
There was this idea that, I, the grown up has specific plans, with a specific purpose and specific reasoning about these plans – where I saw Cesar, the baby, as kind of just being random in that there’s no particular direction or structure in his day, and so he can just ‘tag along’ because you know, he’s just kind of like ‘whatever’.
So what I saw then and there is that, even though he doesn’t have an organized way of going about his day or giving himself an overall structured direction – he does give himself direction in every moment, in his own way. Sure, his trip to the bathroom wasn’t planned and only occurred because I had to take a potty break – but him reaching for the empty shampoo bottle: that was a specific decision. Him touching, moving, throwing – interacting with the empty shampoo bottle in various ways: this was him directing himself, this was him being involved with something. And if I am stuck in my world where I am going ‘okay, done with this lets go on to the next thing’ and simply pick him up while he is participating with an object in this manner, then I am in fact interrupting his ‘purposed-plan’ as what he decided to do now and interact with.
So even though I have my world where certain things need to be done, Cesar also has his own world where he is doing things – it’s just not as apparent since it doesn’t conform to ‘adult logic’ but relates his experience and whatever way he in that moment/stage is exploring the world and developing his relationship with his environment and himself.
So in that moment where he is playing with the empty shampoo bottle, he is just as ‘purpose-driven’ as I am in wanting to get to the next room to get on to the next thing – just in a different form. I know I don’t like to suddenly be interrupted and ripped away from something I was giving my attention to and sharing my moment with, so why should I treat Cesar as such?
If I was busy reading a book and someone would just take it away all of a sudden – I’d also be like ‘Oi!! I was busy with that!!!’ So, that’s what Cesar’s doing when he is playing or exploring something. He goes totally into it, and for that moment, the only thing that exists is him and the object he is exploring/playing with.
So when I realised that I was actually being quite rude to interrupt him just like that and expect him to be okay with just ‘tagging along’ and expecting him to be able to ‘immediately let go’ of whatever he was doing – I changed my approach. Sometimes, if time allows it, we will stay a bit longer and I will let him play a bit longer with what he is doing or join in. Then, when it is time to go – I will tell him, and I also announce to him now every time that I am ‘going to pick you up now!’. Then, as I let him know, I will place my hands around his waist – but instead of then immediately picking him up – I will just leave my hands there for a moment and count to three inside myself or out loud. So that, when I announce to him what’s going to happen next, he knows there’s about to be a change, and then the moment I am placing my hands on his waists and leaving them for a moment: he has time to internally let go of what he is doing. Then when I pick him up, he has been able to process the change through space and time, instead of in one second being ‘ripped away’ from what he was doing.
I’ve found making this one adjustment in how I interact with him making a big difference in his demeanour, where before he was more frustrated and on edge and now is more flexible and easy going; which makes sense because he is now being considered, and in me slowing down and taking his experience and how he takes things in into account: our relationship is more balanced since I am treating him the way I’d like to be treated, and within that treating him as an equal instead of me role-playing as “adult” and treating him as a “baby”.
So this one point of in essence, ‘stretching things out’ where instead of just picking the baby up and going, where it is now divided and spread out into announcing, giving a moment, and then moving + making it a habit to not only look at my timeline but to basically in every moment that you’re with your child see things from yours and his perspective = adds up to a much better relationship between parent and child.
An EQAFE interview which gives perspective into this and other points is: Understanding Your Baby Within Sharing - Perfecting the Human Race - Parenting – Part 47